African-American Burials

We have five Civil War burials of African-American soldiers and a few from later wars.  Unlike some other Civil War cemeteries, these burials are not separated from white burials.  Instead, they are scattered around the cemetery.

Early in the Civil War, black men were unable to enlist as soldiers.  That policy would change as more slaves fled to Union lines and the Union war aims shifted to support emancipation.  From that point black soldiers played an increasingly important role in the Union war effort.  By the end of the war there were 166 black regiments in United States service, comprising 300,000 men.  These regiments were distinguished from ordinary Union unit by the title United States Colored Troops.  In some cases, black troops had non-combat roles, like guarding railroads, but this would change in the final year of the war.  In Virginia, black troops saw their first action against Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia near Piney Branch Church in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.  They engaged in some of the heaviest fighting around both Petersburg and Richmond.